We Watch CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ So You Don’t Have To (11-26-17)


Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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On A King Size Bed In The Midwest – Last week, CNN “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter called Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) Al “Frankenspace.” So I was eager to watch this week’s performance.

Brian’s ballooning and his perma-scowl is on display this week, making him look like the perfect mix of ridiculous and too serious or ridiculously too serious.

The biased host does what he typically does during the opening of his show. Which is, he spends a good chunk of time trashing President Trump. He insists Trump just talks to his friends over at Fox News – he says it’s why he turned down the chance to be TIME’s Person of the Year.

In a word: ZURAWIK. My eardrums are about to take a beating as Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik makes another LOUD appearance on the program. Others on the first panel include The Daily Beast’s EIC John Avlon, New York Mag’s Olivia Nuzzi and USA Today’s Joanne Lipman.

Avlon suspects Trump didn’t want to give an interview to a pub that wouldn’t offer him a “partisan foot massage.”

Nuzzi’s go to TV word is “certainly.” When she calls Trump’s tweets “pretty insane for a politician,” Brian feels the need to question her on it. “Insane?” he asks. “Yeah, certainly,” she replies confidentally.

Later in the show, she says, “The press should bother, certaintly.”

Avlon calls Trump “YOLO Trump.” He says “Twitter Trump is the real Trump” and teleprompter Trump is not.

Zurawik is on a screen behind the panel and I’m dreading him chiming in. He must be worried that CNN is wavering on him because of all his appearances on this program, he has never been such a giant ass-kisser. He even bashes President Trump for knocking CNN. Come on, does the media critic for The Baltimore Sun really need to go on a CNN show to defend CNN? Don’t worry, Zurawik, you’ll likely be invited back for a future TV hit.

“CNN International is one of the great international media institutions in the world,” he says responding to a question about Trump attacking CNN International. “…This is a global lifeline.”

Zurawik says Trump is like a 12-year-old schoolboy “talking crap.”

Shockingly there is no argument from Brian.

“You know he’s thrown so many traditions out the window…we should not normalize it when he does this kind of thing and we should keep screaming bloody murder about it,” shouted Zurawik, when Brian wondered if Trump would be interviewed during the Super Bowl.

Just when you thought Zurawik couldn’t suck up to CNN any harder, he does. He says Trump should sit down with the likes of CNN’s resident Twitter-obsessed anchor Jake Tapper instead of his buddies over at Fox News – the insinuation being that Tapper is a real journalist and everyone else is basically lame.

At peak nauseum, Zurawik says, “I don’t think Trump wants to sit down with a real journalist like Jake Tapper.

(Just an FYI, if you’re a media journalist and you’ve dealt with Tapper on Twitter DM or over email, you know he’s more than a little thin-skinned.)

Zurawik praises CBS for doing such a wonderful job covering its own sexual harassment scandal – particularly Charlie Rose’s co-hosts Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell. “This is a cultural moment, this is a moment presented to us,” he said, making an annoyingly obvious point.

In a surprising move, he adds something intriguing to the discussion by explaining that Rose earned the network gobs of cash and still swiftly showed him the door.

Indeed, Zurawik isn’t a total disappointment this week. “Women from my generation didn’t have a chance,” he says. He goes on a dirty tirade about how men used to shove women in booths and stick their tongues down womens’ throats. He says in his day, men called women “crazy” for sticking up for themselves.

“This is outrageous where we are today,” he says.

Even Lipman, of USA TODAY, winces when Zurawik makes the same point about the “kissing booth” twice.

“Every woman knows what it’s like to not be taken seriously,” she says, discounting Zurawik’s more lurid example of a man sticking his tongue down a woman’s throat in a booth.

Nuzzi pointedly disagrees with Lipman when she says the media shouldn’t be covering Trump’s daily bullshit because it’s “distraction.”

“I disagree,” she says, twice, before getting to make her point that what Lipman said about not covering Trump is preposterous.

Nuzzi argues that the media is adept enough to cover Trump’s bullshit, sexual harassment and Russia all at the same time.

Among the more interesting media stories of the week are the demise of Charlie Rose, for multiple allegations of sexual harassment and weirdnessdemise and Glenn Thrush, who was suspended from the New York Times for, among other allegations, trying to kiss a co-worker at Politico.

Instead of discussing and debating the Thrush story, Brian skips right past it and just tells viewers what we already know – which is that the NYT has suspended him.

Claire Wardle, executive director of First Draft, a non-profit research group at Harvard, says it’s time to retire the phrase “fake news.”

Claire’s a great guest – she talks fast and in a British accent, which always makes a person seem smarter than the average American journalist.

A lot of this stuff isn’t real and is being used as a “weapon” against the news industry, she says.